St. Stanislas

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St. Stanislas, Bishop of Cracow, Martyr

A.D. 1079.

STANISLAS SEZEPANOWSKI was born on the 26th of July, 1030, at Sezepanow, in the diocess of Cracow. His parents, both of the most illustrious families of Poland, had passed thirty years together without issue, when this son was given them by heaven, after they had lost all hopes of children. They received him with thanksgiving to God, and devoted him from his birth to the divine service. The example of their extraordinary piety, charity to the poor, and constant practice of mortification, made insensible impressions upon the tender heart of their son, which were strengthened by their assiduous instructions. Young Stanislas, from his very infancy, showed an unusual affection for prayer, seriousness, and mortification, being very temperate in his meals, often secretly lying on the ground, and inuring himself to suffer cold and other inconveniencies; in which acts of self-denial he was privately encouraged by his parents; who were far from giving into the preposterous fondness of many who, by a false tenderness, too often make themselves the spiritual, and sometimes also the corporal murderers of their offspring. Stanislas being sent to school, by his progress in learning surpassed the expectation and even wishes of his friends: yet was always more careful to advance in piety. He had no relish for superfluous amusements; the time allowed for recreation he abridged as much as health would permit, and the money which was given him for his pocket was always secretly employed in relieving the poor. When grown up, he was sent to pursue his studies at Gnesna, the first university in the kingdom, and thence to Paris. His mildness, modesty, simplicity, and candour, joined with his capacity for learning, gained him every where as many friends and admirers as he had masters and acquaintances. After seven years spent in the schools of canon-law and divinity at Paris, refusing, out of humility, the degree of doctor, which was offered him, he returned home; and, upon the demise of his parents, disposed of his plentiful fortune in favour of the poor. He received the holy order of priesthood from the hands of Lampert Zula, bishop of Cracow, and was by him made canon of his cathedral, and soon after his preacher and vicar-general. His assiduous sermons, animated by the Spirit of God, with which he was replenished, and supported by the example and sanctity of his life, produced a wonderful reformation of manners, and inspired many with a contempt of the world to follow Christ. Both clergy and laity had recourse to his advice in all spiritual concerns from every part of the kingdom: and his diocesan, desirous of having him for his successor, made an offer to resign to him his bishopric; but the saint’s opposition proved a bar not to be moved. However, upon the death of Lampert, he found himself unable to withstand the united votes of the king, clergy, and people, seconded by an express order they had obtained from Pope Alexander II. for complying with their choice. Wherefore, not to resist the voice and will of heaven, he obeyed, and was consecrated bishop in 1072. This see, which had been formerly metropolitical, had at that time lost its archiepiscopal prerogative. 1 Continue reading

Rogation Days

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Rogation Days

Days of prayer, and formerly also of fasting, instituted by the Church to appease God’s anger at man’s transgressions, to ask protection in calamities, and to obtain a good and bountiful harvest, known in England as “Gang Days” and “Cross Week”, and in Germany as Bittage, Bittwoche, Kreuzwoche. The Rogation Days were highly esteemed in England and King Alfred’s laws considered a theft committed on these days equal to one committed on Sunday or a higher Church Holy Day. Their celebration continued even to the thirteenth year of Elizabeth, 1571, when one of the ministers of the Established Church inveighed against the Rogation processions, or Gang Days, of Cross Week. The ceremonial may be found in the Council of Clovesho (Thorpe, Ancient Laws, I, 64; Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, III, 564).

The Rogation Days are the 25th of April, called Major, and the three days before the feast of the Ascension, called Minor. The Major Rogation, which has no connexion with the feast of St. Mark (fixed for this date much later) seems to be of very early date and to have been introduced to counteract the ancient Robigalia, on which the heathens held processions and supplications to their gods. St. Gregory the Great (d. 604) regulated the already existing custom. The Minor Rogations were introduced by St. Mamertus, Bishop of Vienne, and were afterwards ordered by the Fifth Council of Orléans, which was held in 511, and then approved by Leo III (795-816). This is asserted by St. Gregory of Tours in “Hist. Franc.”, II, 34, by St. Avitus of Vienne in his “Hom. de Rogat.” (P.L., LVIII, 563), by Ado of Vienne (P.L., CXXIII, 102), and by the Roman Martyrology. Sassi, in “Archiepiscopi Mediolanenses”, ascribes their introduction at an earlier date to St. Lazarus. This is also held by the Bollandist Henschen in “Acta SS.”, II, Feb., 522. The liturgical celebration now consists in the procession and the Rogation Mass. For 25 April the Roman Missal gives the rubric: “If the feast of St. Mark is transferred, the procession is not transferred. In the rare case of 25 April being Easter Sunday [1886, 1943], the procession is held not on Sunday but on the Tuesday following”.

The order to be observed in the procession of the Major and Minor Rogation is given in the Roman Ritual, title X, ch. iv. After the antiphon “Exurge Domine”, the Litany of the Saints is chanted and each verse and response is said twice. After the verse “Sancta Maria” the procession begins to move. If necessary, the litany may be repeated, or some of the Penitential or Gradual Psalms added. For the Minor Rogations the “Ceremoniale Episcoporum”, book II, ch. xxxii, notes: “Eadem serventur sed aliquid remissius”. If the procession is held, the Rogation Mass is obligatory, and no notice is taken of whatever feast may occur, unless only one Mass is said, for then a commemoration is made of the feast. An exception is made in favour of the patron or titular of the church, of whom the Mass is said with a commemoration of the Rogation. The colour used in the procession and Mass is violet. The Roman Breviary gives the instruction: “All persons bound to recite the Office, and who are not present at the procession, are bound to recite the Litany, nor can it be anticipated”.

ROCK, The Church of Our Fathers, III (London, 1904), 181; DUCHESNE, Chr. Worship (tr. London, 1904), 288; BINTERIM, Denkwurdigkeiten; AMBERGER, Pastoraltheologie, II, 834; VAN DER STEPPEN, Sacra Liturgia, IV, 405; NILLES, Kalendarium Manuale (Innsbruck, 1897).

APA citation. Mershman, F. (1912). Rogation Days. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Mershman, Francis. “Rogation Days.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.